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Teaching the ReformationMinisters and Their Message in Basel, 1529-1629$

Amy Nelson Burnett

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195305760

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0195305760.001.0001

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(p.291) Appendix

(p.291) Appendix

Comparison of Commentaries on Daniel 3:24–25

Source:
Teaching the Reformation
Publisher:
Oxford University Press

Johannes Oecolampadius, Johann Jacob Grynaeus, and Amandus Polanus all published commentaries on the Book of Daniel. A comparison of the three authors on one specific passage, Daniel 3:24–25 (the three young men in the fiery furnace), demonstrates the change in style and emphasis in theology instruction that occurred in Basel over the course of the sixteenth century. While Oecolampadius and Grynaeus simply give their Latin translation of the Hebrew text, Polanus inserts translation notes in italics after significant words, noting the terms used in the Vulgate, the Septuagint, the Masoretic text, and the commentary of Rashi from the rabbinic Bible and the interpretation of David Kimhi, possibly from his grammar or dictionary. The three authors then discuss the passage, as follows.

Oecolampadius, In Danielem Prophetam Ioannis Oecolampadij libri duo … (Basel: Bebel, 1530), 49v–51r

Oecolampadius focuses on the miracle that was performed by the true God (rather than by the false gods of the Babylonians). He then discusses the phrase “et aspectus quarti similis est filio Dei,” the translation of Aquila, which he prefers to the Septuagint's “angelum Dei.” Oecolampadius accepts without question the identification of this fourth figure with Christ, and he compares Nebuchadnezzar's conversion to the conversion of St. Paul:

Non mirum enim est, si ad consolationem seruorum suorum Dominus Immanuel appareat, qui antea etiam et Abrahe, et Israel, ac Mose, assumpta ad tempus specie aliqua uisibili, et corpore, quod et angeli solebant, qui etiam a prophetis angelus magni consilij, et angelus testamenti dictus. Nec mireris quod Nabuchodonozori uisus est: nonne et Paulo persequenti et internetionem spiranti se ostendit? Et sicut hunc regem obstupescere fecit, ita Paulum prostrauit, et ex utroque persecutore confessorem fecit. Et sicut comites Pauli uocem quidem audiebant, sed neminem (p.292) videbant, ita etiam qui in hoc horrendo spectaculo erant, praeter regem, quartum illum non videbant: sicut Paulus per ignorantiam, et non obstinatam malitiam peccarat, ita et Nabuchodonozor uenia dignior erat, qum inuidi delatores quos ignis deuorauit: licet perdite ac blaspheme arrogans erat, et legem suam uiolari nolebat. Nolim tamen propterea aequasse tanto apostolo regem, sed similim misericordiam communicatam ostenderim.

Oecolampadius criticizes the interpretation of Eudoxius, endorsing instead the view of Chrysostom, Hippolytus, Apollinarius, and Jerome that Nebuchadnezzar did indeed see Christ. Finally, he applies the text to his listeners:

Nos uero etiam in hac uita, que tentationum fornax est, gratias illi agemus, quod ad nos descendere dignatus est, per omnia similis factus, et tentatus, ferensque crucem, leuem illam nobis reddidit, ita ut et lugentes beati sint, et consolationem assequantur, et si externus homo male habeat, internus indies magis ac magis confortetur. Quotquot enim illum fratrem ac redemptorem nostrum esse credimus, per quem nunc cum patre coelesti in gratiam redijmus, maximum spiritus solatium concepimus, ut liceat illum appellare patrem, et sic in medijs tribulationibus ac ignibus hilares deambulare, id quod in uera religione consequimur.

Grynaeus, Explanatio Danielis prophetae quinque primorvm capitvm … (Basel: Henricpetri, 1587), 272–76

Breaking from his usual custom of commenting on one verse at a time, Grynaeus summarizes the narrative of the three verses (23–25) and then draws six points of application:

  1. 1. Deum e coelo irridere conatus hominum, dum eorum partem fieri permittit, ut altera parte, quae maxime illis cordi erat, inhibita, illorum impotentia, Dei autem sapientia et uirtus, magis elucescat. … 

  2. 2. Deum, in cuius manu sunt Regum corda, iram eorum in moerorem et admirationem, nutu suo conuertere: et ex hostibus piorum hominum eorundem summos admiratores efficere posse.

  3. 3. Conscientiam dictare etiam Regibus, quando grauius deliquerunt, confessionem, de iniusta saeuitia et crudelitate erga innocentes Dei Seruos. … 

  4. 4. Turpissimam esse eorum optimatum seruitutem, qui sic pendent a Principum suorum nutu et renutu, ut ad male facta eorum conniueant: et ea postea cum eorundem opprobrio fateri, cogantur. … 

  5. 5. Documenta praesentiae Dei et defensionis piorum hominum, terrori sunt ijs, qui manus uiolentas Christis seu unctis Domini iniecerunt, eoque nomine sese grauiter deliquisse animaduertunt.

  6. 6. Eximi Sanctorum laus est, quae ab ijs proficiscitur, qui eosdem paulo ante damnauerant et perdere conati fuerant.

Unlike Oecolampadius, Grynaeus rejects the patristic identification of the fourth figure with Christ. While he does not analyze these three verses according to Aristotelian causes, in his discussion of verse 27 (282–3) he identifies both the efficient cause (“famulantes, fuerunt omnium ordinum Babylonici proceres) and the final cause (“ut certo ipsis constaret, nullamne vim elementum ignis in sanctorum istorum corpora habuisset”) of the miracle and discusses secondary causality as well, in order to draw the conclusion that “erroneam esse Stoicorum de Fato opinionem, quae fingit (p.293) eiusmodi esse nexum primae caussae: hoc est, Dei, et secundarum caussarum, ut non secus Deus agere possit, quam fert secundarum caussarum ratio et uirtus.” Likewise, he also analyzes Nebuchadnezzar's confession in terms of Aristotelian causality (285–6). This is followed by two theses: “Miracula vera, Dei auctoris gloriae seruire debent,” and “Virtus in fide, quam veritatis testes declarant, etiam fidei hostibus admirationi esse potest, sic ut quos paulo ante condemnauerant, non multo post debita lude persequantur” (287–8).

Polanus, In Danielem Prophetam visionum amplitudine difficillimum, vaticiniorum majestate augustissimum Commentarius … (Basel: Waldkirch, 1599), 158–64

Polanus introduces his analysis of the verses by way of Ramist dichotomies:

Amplificatur miraculum conservationis martyrum istorum ab effectis, quae tum in Nebucadnetzare, tum in Satrapis illud operatum est. Si Nebucadnetzarem spectes, is primum miraculo isto expavefactus est. Qui paulo ante superbo animo, Dei potentiam contemnebat et omni metu Numinis vacuus erat; nunc subito timore et pavore corripitur, unico potentiae divinae specimine conspecto. Secundo surrexit cum perturbatione. Sedebat enim more regio et oculos in exitio martyrum istorum pascere volebat: sed conterritus miraculo surrexit celeriter prorsusque perturbatus. Tertio compellatis Gubernatoribus Satrapisque ex admiratione et stupore sciscitatus est. … Cujus sciscitationis quatuor sunt membra.

Polanus describes these four parts, then asserts that Nebuchadnezar made his confession in accordance with divine providence. Polanus discusses Nebuchadnezzar's confession under five headings; the fifth concerns the king's statement, in Polanus's translation, “quarti formam esse similem filio deorum.” Polanus acknowledges that Tertullian, Epiphanius, and Augustine all identified this figure with Christ, but he rejects this interpretation. Finally, he draws five points of application from the passage, concerning divine miracles, the attitude of unbelievers when presented with divine miracles, the liberation of the saints, the good angels, and the glory of the persecuted church. Four of these points are divided into four or five subpoints, while Polanus's discussion of the good angels is a lengthy excursus first on what these angels are, and then on what their duties are toward the elect. (p.294)